Revelation 4-7 The Wrath of the Lamb Begins

TMS 1John 5:13 Assurance of Salvation
1Jn 5:11 “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 These things I have written to you
who believe in the name of the Son of God,
that you may know that you have eternal life,
and that you may continue
to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Observations: 5:13 Eternal life is given to those who believe in the name of the Son of God. John 1:12 equates believing in His name with receiving or welcoming Him into one's life. Forgiveness for sin is part of the package, given on the basis God's grace, to those who exercise faith in Christ's death for their sins. That forgiveness removes the barrier between us and God so we can have a relationship with Him. Nothing else that we can do provides the relationship. Maintaining and developing the relationship, and not forfeiting the benefits, are another story. We already have the assurance of the justification/forgiveness aspect of our salvation, according to the first half of verse 13. But John writes the epistle, and the second half of verse 13 (which some versions inappropriately omit) to enable us to maintain the benefits of the relationship by continuing to believe. As Jesus said in John 10:10, He came that we “might have life, and have it abundantly.” John wrote in 20:31 that by continuing to believe we will have life in (by means of) His name/power. To “have the Son” in 1John is to have an abiding relationship with Him (see Jn 15 and comments in 1Jn 5:13). Those who continue to believe will reap the benefits of the relationship, including glory/dominion in the Messianic Age. Those who don't continue to believe what God has revealed in Christ, don't lose their forgiveness, but will forfeit the blessings God intends to give those who are loyal and faithful.
Application: Belief in Christ starts the relationship and begets life; continuing to believe brings in the abundant life Christ wants to share with us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for wanting a relationship with me, may I believe all that You have said, and act accordingly. Amen.

Revelation 4-7 John gets invited to come up to heaven to see and record what God has planned for the future. The judgments of Revelation are the wrath of the Lamb, who pays back injustice and unrighteousness. This section describes six of the “seven seal judgments” that will occur during the Great Tribulation. In the Pre-millennial view, the Tribulation is the seven year period following the Rapture of the Church and before the Messiah returns to set up His promised Millennial Kingdom (thus the return of Christ is Pre-millennial). The term “Pre-Tribulation” refers to the Rapture of the church occurring before this time of trouble (see comments on 1Thess 4). Like a telescope, contained within the “seventh seal judgment” are “seven trumpet judgments,” and contained in the “seventh trumpet” are “seven vial or bowel judgments.” The cumulative effect of these judgments totally alters earth and life on it as we know it. It is obvious that these judgments are yet future.

Revelation 4 Worthy is the Lord
4:1 After these things I looked and saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, like a trumpet speaking with me, was one saying, "Come up here, and I will show you the things which must happen after this." 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit. Behold, there was a throne set in heaven, and one sitting on the throne 3 that looked like a jasper stone and a sardius. There was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald to look at. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones. On the thrones were twenty-four elders sitting, dressed in white garments, with crowns of gold on their heads. 5 Out of the throne proceed lightnings, sounds, and thunders. There were seven lamps of fire burning before his throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne was something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal. In the midst of the throne, and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes before and behind. 7 The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third creature had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle.
8 The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!"
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits on the throne, to him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever, and throw their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy one, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed, and were created!"

Observations: 4:1-8 After hearing the contents of the seven letters, John sees a door open in heaven and a voice calling him up there (some see this as an indication of the Rapture), to see the things which must happen according to the plan of God. Being transported in the Spirit to the presence of God like Ezekiel, he sees God on His throne, as did Ezekiel. This vision clearly links the two books, as Ezekiel is also about the establishment of the Messiah's Millennial Kingdom. Thus all that Ezekiel said should be in the back of the reader's mind as they consider Revelation. Daniel 7:9-14 has a somewhat similar vision which fits the next chapter better. The four “living/ruling” creatures are most likely angelic beings, reflective of the aspects of Christ in His roles as king (lion), servant (ox/calf), man, and God (eagle).
4:9-11 Whenever the four creatures gave glory to God, the elders also worshiped, both by their actions and words which acknowledged that all things were created by and for Him. We're not told the identity of the twenty-four elders in white garments with crowns on their heads. The crowns are golden victors' wreaths, which would designate them as rewarded overcomers, rather than angels (5:11 distinguishes them from angels as well). The next chapter (5:10) indicates that they are representative of those Christ has redeemed from all nations. The twelve apostles were promised thrones and rulership over the twelve tribes of Israel, so the additional twelve could be those who ruled over the Gentiles (rather than OT Patriarchs or prophets or priests), but most opinions are just that since we're not given more specifics.
Matthew 19:28 So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
The elders worship Him who lives (not just exists, but rules or exercises dominion) forever. Those who think that rewards don't matter because “we just give them back to Jesus” are deluded on multiple accounts.
Having a crown/glory is a means of honoring God. The giving of glory, honor, and thanks is different from the living creatures saying “Holy, Holy, Holy.” When they do, the elders cast (present tense) their crowns before His throne as an acknowledgment of His worthiness to receive glory and honor and power. For a ruler to put their crown under another's feet was to acknowledge not only the other's greater power, but that they ruled by the permission and pleasure of the greater power. Those who fail to overcome and be rewarded will not be able to honor God like this.
God doesn't want the area in front of His throne to be littered with pointy tipped crowns (stepping on them could be painful). Note that in order to fall down again, they have to get back up and put their crowns back on their head, and resume their duties of ruling, and carrying out God's will (which is why they have thrones in the first place).
The giving of rulership, authority, and power, means the person giving it, has it, thus when He rewards His faithful servants, God is displaying His hitherto unseen glory. Those who want God to receive the maximum amount of glory, will live so He can display it in rewarding them.
2Thessalonians 1:10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application: God is worthy of our total worship and allegiance because He is the Creator and thus Owner of all. He is doubly worthy because He not only gave us life, He gave it back to us through His redemption of us, after we forfeited it through sin.
Prayer: God, You are holy, and worthy of all the honor I could ever give You; may I live to bring You glory. Amen.

Revelation 5 Title Deed to the Earth
5:1 I saw, in the right hand of him who sat on the throne, a book/scroll written inside and outside, sealed shut with seven seals. 2 I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book, and to break its seals?" 3 No one in heaven above, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the book, or to look in it. 4 And I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open the book, or to look in it. 5 One of the elders said to me, "Don’t weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals."
6 I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 7 Then he came, and he took it out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 Now when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
9 They sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open its seals: for you were killed, and redeemed us for God with your blood, out of every tribe, language, people, and nation, 10 and made us kings and priests to our God, and we will reign on earth."
11 I saw, and I heard something like a voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands of ten thousands, and thousands of thousands; 12 saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who has been killed to receive the power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing!" 13 I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honor, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!" 14 The four living creatures said, "Amen!" The elders fell down and worshiped Him that lives forever.

Observations: 5:1-5 John sees the Father holding a scroll with seven seals on it. Roman law required that a “will” be authenticated by seven seals from seven witnesses. The scroll is the title deed to the earth which is inherited by Christ as a result of His obedience (Phil 2). He is worthy to open it because He is not only the legal inheritor of the promises made to David (2Sam 7; Ps 89 -Davidic Covenant) and Abraham (Gen 12), but also the faithful “overcomer” (verse 5). John was distraught perhaps because the purposes of God contained in the scroll would be thwarted if no one could open it. One of the elders encouraged John with the fact that the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, had overcome (was victorious) and therefore could open the scroll.
5:6-10 In the midst of the throne John sees the Lamb that was slain having seven horns (symbols of authority and rulership -cf Daniel's visions), and the sevenfold (abundant and omnipresent) Spirit of God. Jesus came and took the scroll and the four living creatures and the twenty-four praised Him. It's noteworthy that Jesus' reward is not given to Him, but He takes it, as a just recompense, which is highlighted in the chapter. The elders now have bowls of incense, (instead of the crowns which represented their ruling function, John sees them exercising their priestly function) representing the prayers/praises of the saints (holy believers), and harps to accompany their praise. (The less honorable ones had accordions.) They sang a new song, acknowledging the worthiness of Christ to open the scroll/will and execute its provisions. They cite the cause of His worthiness, His death, and highlight what it accomplished, the redemption of people from all nations, and the constitution of them as kings and priests (crowns and incense), to reign with the Messiah upon the earth. Note that this is a vision of the future which had not yet been implemented.
5:11-14 Then John sees and hears innumerable angels joining in with the elders and living creatures in praising the Lamb who was slain, for His worthiness. He is worthy to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing (did they miss anything?). Every created thing joins in the praise of God the Father on the throne, and the Lamb, ascribing blessing, honor, glory, and dominion/power to them. The elders fall down (again) and worship Him that lives (exercises dominion) forever (to the Age of Ages).
Application: Jesus was worthy to be blessed because of His victorious obedience to the Father's will. The same goes for us; we are worthy by virtue of our faithful behavior (Mt 10:38; Eph 4:1).
Prayer: Lord, I praise You for redeeming me; You are worthy of all I could possibly give You; please guide me in being worthy to share in Your kingdom. Amen.

Revelation 6 Six Seals of the Wrath of the Lamb
6:1 I saw that the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as with a voice of thunder, "Come and see!" 2 And behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow. A crown was given to him, and he came forth conquering, and to conquer.
3 When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, "Come!" 4 Another came forth, a red horse. To him who sat on it was given power to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another. There was given to him a great sword.
5 When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, "Come and see!" And behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a balance in his hand. 6 I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius! Don’t damage the oil and the wine!"
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see!" 8 And behold, a pale horse, and he who sat on it, his name was Death. Hades followed with him. Authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, with famine, with death, and by the wild animals of the earth was given to him.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been killed for the Word of God, and for the testimony of the Lamb which they had. 10 They cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, Master, the holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 A long white robe was given to each of them. They were told that they should rest yet for a while, until their fellow servants and their brothers, who would also be killed even as they were, should complete their course.
12 I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became as blood. 13 The stars of the sky fell to the earth, like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was removed like a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 The kings of the earth, the princes, the commanding officers, the rich, the strong, and every slave and free person, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains. 16 They told the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of his wrath has come; and who is able to stand?"

Observations: 6:1 John sees the Lamb undo the seals on the scroll. As each of the first four is opened, a judgment is unleashed upon the earth, commented upon by one of the four living (ruling?) creatures. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse come from this passage, and are an outpouring of the wrath of the Lamb (see verse 17). It should be obvious to any literary or literal interpreter that these have not yet occurred, as well as those who pay attention to the clues in the context (ie, how long until...?).
6:2 The first is a white horse, a symbol of power, as is the bow, and crown. White implies but doesn't guarantee righteousness. The rider is given authority/permission to conquer, but no more is said about him here. No arrows are mentioned, nor the effect on earth, possibly pointing to a peaceful conquest (cf. Dan 9:27; 1Thess 5:3).
6:3-4 The second is a red horse, whose rider was given a sword, and power to take peace from the earth, which resulted in people killing each other. Red usually symbolizes blood.
6:5-6 The third is a black horse, who has a balance scale, used in buying and selling (the word is also for a “yoke” to harness farm animals). Through destruction or manipulation of markets, famine conditions are reached. The prices of wheat and barley are about twenty times the normal price, consuming an entire day's wages. Oil and wine, consumed more by the rich, are not to be touched.
6:7-8 The fourth is a pale horse ridden by Death, followed by Hades (the grave) who killed a quarter of the earth's population with war, famine, death, and wild animals. There is no record of anything like this in history (see another clearly yet future terror in the sixth seal).
6:9-11 The fifth seal reveals what should be vengeance and justice, but instead it reveals under the altar (before the throne cf. Ezekiel) the martyrs who had been killed for their faithfulness to the work of God, and the Lamb. They ask how long it will be until they are avenged. Their holy and true Master gives each of them a white robe (glory? cf. 19:8 where it is put for the righteous acts of the saints), and they are told to “rest” for a while until their fellow saints should join them (cf Heb 11:39-40 comments about the future glorification of the NT saints). There will come a time when they are avenged, but it is still future.
6:12-17 The sixth seal is unprecedented apocalypse of Biblical proportions. It's a global earthquake that moves every mountain, and every island out of its original placement, and which turns the sun black and the moon blood-red. Bunches of stars fall out of the sky to strike the earth like figs shaken from a tree. The sky is rolled back like a scroll (wonder what's under it). Everyone on earth heads for the hills to hide in terror from the face of the God who judges and the wrath of the Lamb. It's payback time and the great day of Christ's wrath has come. Only those rightly related to him can stand.
Malachi 3:1...Behold, He is coming," Says the LORD of hosts. 2 " But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderers' soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness. 4 " Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem Will be pleasant to the LORD, As in the days of old, As in former years. 5 And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien --- Because they do not fear Me," Says the LORD of hosts.
Application: God will avenge the injustices His servants experience at the proper time. While waiting, we can rest in confidence that His holiness demands justice.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for dying for me, and enabling me to live so as to be spared from the wrath to come. Amen.

Revelation 7 144,000 and a Whole Lot More
7:1 After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree. 2 I saw another angel ascend from the sunrise, having the seal of the living God. He cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Don’t harm the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the bondservants of our God on their foreheads!" 4 I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel: 5 of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, 6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, 7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, 8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation be to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11 All the angels were standing around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before his throne, and worshiped God, 12 saying, "Amen! Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might, be to our God forever and ever! Amen."
13 One of the elders answered, saying to me, "These who are arrayed in white robes, who are they, and from where did they come?" 14 I told him, "My lord, you know." He said to me, "These are those who came out of the great tribulation. They washed their robes, and made them white in the Lamb’s blood. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, they serve him day and night in his temple. He who sits on the throne will spread his tabernacle over them. 16 They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shepherds them, and leads them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Observations: 7:1-8 Four angels stand ready to unleash four winds upon the earth to destroy, but another angle ascending from the sunrise (where God's glory shines) has the seal of the living God to make secure the servants of God, first. He seals 144,000 Jewish believers, specified as coming equally from each of the twelve tribes. Sealing was done to identify and protect. No Gentiles are mentioned.
7:9-17 After the sealing of the 144,000 Jews, John sees an innumerable multitude of people from all nations standing before the throne to serve God and the Lamb. They have white robes (righteousness) and palm branches (cf Jn 12:13; Lev 23:40). The refrain of their praise is similar to that in chapter 5. They are those who came out of the Great Tribulation (of the preceding judgments -Mt 24:21; Jer 30:7; Dan 9:24) and washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb (note they are the active agents). They will no longer suffer, but the Lamb will shepherd them, and God will wipe away every tear (giving them joy instead).
Application: Those who suffer and serve, even to the point of tears and death, won't regret the sacrifices they have made for Christ.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks that You shepherd Your servants, and lead them to springs of living water, where lack is a forgotten memory. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God is the Creator and Sustainer of all, and worthy of all glory and honor.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is worthy to rule and receive all glory and honor with the Father because of His faithful obedience. In His rule He will pour out His wrath on the unjust and ungodly, yet still shepherd those who are loyal to Him.

Us in a nutshell: We have the responsibility to praise and worship God our entire lives, which isn't just singing songs, but dying for Him daily.

Where to Go for More:

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